T Nation

Lower Back Pain on One Side


#1

my left lower back has always felt a little achy at times, right where my lower back connects to my ass. It is also much tighter than my right side.

Today I was squatting, working up to a 5rm and once I got to 175lbs (5rm is ~275lbs) on my back it felt a little strainy. Then I did 215 and 250 and during the last "lockout" part where I guess the bar speed would be quick and then stop at lockout, the left side of the very bottom of my lower back hurt a lot.

I stopped and then tried deadlifts with just the bar. I got the same pain, mainly at the lockout area of the lift. I would also feel it across the entire left side where the ass meets the back

Other info that could be important:
-I used to deadlift over/under with the left hand over right hand under. I started to notice that my right trap was smaller and switched to hook grip. I switched about 7-8 months ago. Maybe a muscle imbalance ensued? To me it feels like my left side might be a bit bigger, and it is definately tighter. Is this related?

-I'm not very flexible.

-Even before I started working out, a doctor i went to a few times said my back was the tightest he's ever seen. :stuck_out_tongue:

-my lower back recovers from deadlifts very slowly.

18yo
5'6", 150lbs
295 sq
420 dl


#2

If it is chronic the you really need to get to a decent physio, there are so many possible causes no one here can acertain the reason.

Having said that (!) it may be one of the ligaments between pelvis a spine has become inflamed - this would give the reduced ROM and the pain. You may want to look at you pelvic tilt (arse too far out or tucked under or over to one side) doing front raises to get your multifidus firing properly and bent knee drop outs for general stability

BUT

only after getting in to see a physiotherapist! Doctors aren't very much help in these circumstances.

Good luck.


#3

"I'm not very flexible"

Bingo. If you're the tightest someone has ever seen, stretch your hamstrings, hip flexors, and back religiously.

And check out the Neanderthal No More series. It's quite helpful.

-Dan


#4

...however where the pain is localised and chronic points to ligament inflation and stretching is just going to exacerbate the problem. This would also account for the difference in flexibility. He should go and see a physio ASAP.


#5

Spot on.

oh, and go and see someone who is qualified - eg. physio, osteo


#6

I spoke with my doctor, I told her it was probably gym related and was a bit hesitant when she said she'd recommend a chirpopracotr for me tomorrow. Should I insist on a physiotherapist or "osteo"? I dunno much about this stuff.

Thanks for the recommendations guys. Before I wasn't sure if I'd see someone but I will. I'll report back with what they say or do. I guess for now no lowerbody workouts. That's really damn frustrating!!!

So is chiropractor ok? I'm going back to college in a few weeks and it'd be best to figure out this crap while I'm home and would somewhat know of/have better access to the doctors in the area.

Thanks!

right now i feel it and it hurts a tiny bit from certain movements but its definately not crippling.


#7

I was referred to an orthopedist, not a chiro. The chiro said that it may not be a good idea to go to him since im only 18. Anyway, I saw the ortho today. I told him about the possibility of muscle imbalances, my left side feels tighter, etc but he said that wasn't the issue. Here's what I was told:

-I probably tore a small ligament near my pelvis at the bottom of the spine. A joint near the sacrum or something. It's not a major thing relating to the spine. Basically it's not a big injury and not something I'll have to live with for life. And my spine is fine (took an x-ray).

-Bench press with your feet on the bench. Not on the floor.
-Don't stick your butt out when doing squats , military press, and anything else. Do the opposite to keep your spine straight.
-Don't do straightlegged deadlifts
-Don't do straight-legged situps.
-Flexibility is overrated and not the issue.
-Maybe my body is just not built for doing those types of exercises. (Yeah Ok buddy. I'll just stop working out now.)

Either I'm very confused or what he's said is the opposite of everything I'm supposed to do. He's been working out for 40+ years although not powerlifting, just being "healthy" I bet. He talked about that plenty. At least he has some idea of the exercises and such. I'm thinking I should just ignore just about everything he said? lol. I don't even see how it's possible to squat with my back straight heh. I'm not quite sure what to think of my visit today.

Anyway, he referred me to a Physical Therapist. I'll see what he says on Friday. Sucks being out of the gym though...it interferes with a lot of my upperbody stuff too. I need to deadlift!!!


#8

Your problem sounds very similar to one that i've had for a number of years. I experience lower back/gluteal pain following periods of training where an emphasis has been on developing the posterior chain (deads, oly lifts etc). This has been attributed to a hyper-mobile sacro-iliac joint which had resulted in muscular imbalances between my right and left sides.

Like you, I was advised not to weight train. However, I feel that I know my own body and my own capabilities better than an "expert" that I have consulted with a handful of times. Subsequently, I manage the problem in the following ways:

1) Address any obvious imbalances, I do alot of unilateral work on my lower body (step-ups, single leg squats, pistols, King deadlifts etc).

2) Work on you flexibility. Stretch your hams, quads, hip flexors, ITBs, Glutes, spinal erectors and lats.

3) As oppose to eliminating PC work, alternate cycles of hip dominant and knee dominant lower body work (for example, I use 3 weeks of deadlift variations or oly lifts followed by a back-off week of things like reverse hypers, pull-throughs or light compound lifts, followed by 3 weeks of front or zercher squats, steps-ups, bulgarian split squats, lunges etc and then another back-off week and then back to hip dominant).

4) Ensure your getting some joint support supplementation (glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM) and plenty of good fats (fish oils, MUFAs).

5) After training if you're aware of discomfort take an ice-bath (just make sure the girlfriend doesn't walk in, as the ice-cold water does nothing for the male ego!).


#9

Honestly, a lot of lower back problems have similar symptoms. Definitely start stretching and performing a good dynamic warmup to loosen the hips, perhaps it is just the SI joint which causes pain that area but it could be more, like a strain and at worse a disc problem. You can try the parisi speed school DVD form elitefts or do kinda what I do

walking lunges (big step)
Under the bar side walk
side lunge
high knees walking
butt kicks walking
high knees with kick
leg swings side to side
leg swings forward
karate kick to side
step over bench forward
step ove rbench sideways
leg swings over chair (front)
leg swings over chair (side)

this really loosens up the hip and get you ready to lift

ART would help as well


#10

I've had a similar experience with doctors. Two osteos I've seen basically said that weightlifting is dangerous and that, even injury-free, I "shouldn't lift heavy" so.... I binned them.

Find yourself a sports injury specilaist (preferably powerlifting orientated) and go and see him/her. I found one recently and it was a breath of fresh air. He said "how do you train?". I said "like a powerlifter". He said "Great. Have you read everything by Louie Simmons, Dave tate, Chad Waterbury, Christian Thibaudeau, etc etc?" I knew I'd found the right physical therapist at last.

Good luck.


#11

Do you have any pain that radiates down the back of your leg? Does it hurt to try and touch your toes? Is the pain only confined to your lower back? Do you have any numbness?

beef


#12

I've gots of questions for you guys :slight_smile:

Yes, the ortho believes it was a small ligament tear at the sacro-iliac joint. Unfortunately, since I am PL focused, my emphasis is always on the posterior chain. Unilateral work for the posterior chain is a good idea. What are king deadlifts? 1-legged hypers might be good too. hard to think of other ones though.

About #2 - That's something I really need to focus on. I always get lazy with stretching as it takes forever to see results.

I currently take glucosamine/chondroitin but no fish oils. Fish oils are good for the joints? I'll have to take a liquid one as I have trouble swallowing those huge pills. It'll be gross but worth it. Is flaxseed oil the same thing?

Will cold showers have the same effect? In 2 weeks im at school and we dont have baths. I try to do a bit of swimming which is also good im sure. I'll probably get bored though... The cold is good for the ligaments?

Thanks for the help!

Well in terms of my condition I can only the ortho's diagnosis was right. I think he'd notice if it was a disc problem (I hope). I guess I'll find out if the physical therapy doesnt help.

For those mobility exercises, how many sets/reps would I do? How soon do I have to do it before working out? what are butt kicks. and last, do these help with flexibility?

Thanks for the help!

Yeah, I don't really plan to follow the ortho's advice. I don't see how I can powerlift while squatting with a straight back and benching with my feet on the bench lol.

but you got damn lucky man. Im not gunna find anyone like that around here. I have yet to meet anyone, either at home or up at school, that is into powerlifting or strength training. But who knows, maybe ill get lucky with my physical therapist :). Thanks!

No pain that radiates down my leg, nor does it hurt to touch my toes (the ortho asked me both these questions btw). It's almost exclusively at my lower back. No numbness at my lower back. I've noticed in the past few days I've felt it a bit higher up my back than usual, im not sure if id describe it as numbness.

I generally am always feeling it now. It'll hurt when I initially sit down, when I "thrust" to slide my chair in, to run. extending my leg to the side hurts more than extending it to the front or back. uh swinging a ping pong paddle fast hurts (duh). None of this is extreme pain, more like just an "Ow".

Thanks for your help beefcake!


#13

Literally, my Grow! shake came out of my nose.


#14

lol. I'll be nice and not edit my post :stuck_out_tongue:


#15

Just saw the physical therapist. basically there isn't really much to do to enhance the recovery process - ligaments dont get much blood flow and take a while to recover. He said I should wait a month before doing squats and stuff and even then kind of build up for a few weeks before going heavy again. He did some stuff to help loosen up the joints and such, He'll probably see me again 2 or 3 more times before I go up school.

he was very surprised at how tight I was, with all the stretches he was like "that's it?" lol. He gave me some stretches to do everyday. Thats something I shouldve been doing all along. he said cold will help with inflammation and making it feel better but it wont help it recover quicker (which is all I care about as Im not dying from pain anyway).

So basically what I have now is:
avoid exercises that hurt it
see the physio a few more times
do the stretches 1-2 times a day to loosen up the area.

I just have to sit back and let it recover and accept the fact that my strength is gunna go out the window. for legs I have to stick to leg extensions/curls and hip abduction/adduction. my ass and lower back will atrophy for the next month. upperbody I probably dont want to do normal bench as the pl setup puts stress in that area. also cant do rows so will be doing pulldowns. I have to see if I can do ab stuff, probably not. this is all fucking crappy. i want my mommy!

This is my plan 3x/week:
4x8 DB Bench
4x10 pulldowns
3x10 inc/mil press machine
try 3x10 rear delt machine maybe
3 sets grip somehow
try 3 sets of glute-kick machine
3x10 leg extensions
3x10 leg curls
3x10 hip adduction
3x10 hip abduction
3x10 ext rotator cuff

another reason isolation sucks. 29-35 sets in 1 workout = im gunna be in the gym forever :stuck_out_tongue: